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December 31, 2004

12/31/04 - Stolen Bank Notes in Circulation

Monthly Table of Contents 12/04

BB 12/31/04 Notes 'Legitimately In Circulation'
IE 12/31/04 Government Fears 30 Years Ago: A North 'Doomsday'
TP 12/31/04 Idi Amin Offered To Broker NIreland Peace: Records
IE 12/31/04 Debt Burden Continues To Surge
SM 12/31/04 Irish Govt Boosts Cash Aid For Quake Survivors


Notes 'Legitimately In Circulation'

Thousands of notes thought to have been stolen in last week's
Northern Bank robbery are legitimately in circulation.

Police investigating the raid had issued serial numbers of the
notes and urged the public to contact them if they came across

However, they confirmed 50,000 £20 notes listed as stolen may
in fact be legitimately held by the public.

Detectives now have a full list of all the stolen notes.

Robbers stole £22m from the bank's city centre vaults on 20

Police investigating the robbery have searched a number of
areas in west Belfast.

On Thursday, commercial premises in the west of the city were
also searched.

Nothing was found during the search at the Blackstaff complex
off the Springfield Road.

Held hostage

Earlier this week, detectives finished searching the homes of
two bank officials.

The two families had to spend Christmas away from their houses
in Poleglass and Loughinisland after they were preserved as
crime scenes.

The robbers stole millions from the vaults of the bank in
Donegall Square West as the families of the two bank officials
were held hostage.

The bank officials are Kevin McMullan from Downpatrick and
Chris Warde from Colinmill in Poleglass.

On Monday, detectives carried out a fresh search of the Warde
family home in the Poleglass area of Belfast.

On Christmas Eve, a search team took a number of items away
for forensic examination.

The bank raid is thought to have been one of the UK's biggest
cash robberies.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has said the possible
involvement of paramilitaries is a "key line of inquiry".

But the IRA has denied involvement in the robbery.

Meanwhile, Northern Bank bosses may withdraw all the bank's

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/31 16:17:12 GMT


Government Fears 30 Years Ago: A North 'Doomsday'

By Caroline O'Doherty

THE prospect of "doomsday" in the North was contemplated by
the Irish Government 30 years ago as they considered the
likelihood of a loyalist uprising leading to British
withdrawal and full-scale civil war spreading to the south.

But the Fine Gael and Labour coalition feared raising the
issue with Britain in case it precipitated a pullout.

The worst-case scenario, referred to as "doomsday" by future
SDLP leader John Hume was discussed at a meeting between
Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, senior Cabinet members and an SDLP
delegation the day after the IRA killed 21 people in the
Birmingham pub bombings in November 1974.

State papers released today reveal the extent of fears that a
series of deadly bomb attacks in Britain would make it
impossible for British Prime Minister Harold Wilson to
withstand pressure from the British public to leave the North.
An Irish Government record of the meeting notes Hume's
eagerness to discover what Cosgrave knew of Wilson's
contingency plans in the event of doomsday but Cosgrave said
there "seemed to be no clear plans of action".

Hume, whose party predicted 70,000 Catholics would flee south
if the worst came to pass, said Cosgrave had a right to insist
on a plan but Foreign Affairs Minister Garrett FitzGerald
warned it "could be very dangerous" to confront Britain about

"If the Irish Government were to indicate it was facing up to
the possibility of British withdrawal, this might certainly
give the British Government the alibi they almost certainly
wanted to get out; in this way we would be letting them off the
hook," he is recorded as saying.

Justice Minister Patrick Cooney said: "it had to be admitted
that it was also only too possible that any overt planning or
recognition of this possibility might encourage the British to
proceed with withdrawal."

Hume retorted: "it seemed to him the Government's position was
simply to rely on the British."

The record is among tens of thousands of pages of records,
documents, letters and memos released by the National Archives

Papers released in Britain today reveal Ugandan President Idi
Amin Dada offered to help broker a peace deal in the North, butMr Wilson declined.


Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin Offered To Broker N. Ireland Peace:

AFP: 12/31/2004

LONDON, Jan 1 (AFP) - In one of the more unlikely and
misjudged diplomatic interventions of modern times, brutal
Ugandan dictator Idi Amin offered in 1974 to act as a peace
broker in Northern Ireland, official British records showed

The offer, while privately dismissed as "preposterous" by
officials in London, was nonetheless thought to be serious,
meriting a formal reply to the negative, according to the
newly-released files.

The move by Amin, whose rule over Uganda from 1971 to 1979 saw
an estimated 400,000 deaths as well as the expulsion of the
country's entire Asian population, came in mid-1974.

At the time, the sectarian conflict between Northern Ireland's
Catholic and Protestant communities, with British troops
caught in the middle, had entered one of its bloodiest

"It appears that the political and security situation in
Northern Ireland is becoming worse every passing day without
any apparent feasible solution to it in sight," Amin wrote in
a letter, now released by the National Archives.

"This serious and regrettable development calls for Britain's
best and sincere friends to come to her assistance.
Consequently, I avail my good offices at the disposal of the
opposing sides in Northern Ireland.

"I suggest that representatives of your Catholic and
Protestant communities in Northern Ireland as well as
representatives of your government come to Uganda, far away
from the site of battle and antagonism, for a conference on
how to bring peace to their Province."

The letter was signed "General Idi Amin Dada", followed by a
series of top British military honours the dictator had
conferred on himself.

In a covering note, the British High Commission in Kampala
said that while the offer showed Amin's "naive view of world
affairs", it was nevertheless "a genuine and sincere effort to
be helpful".

In London, Foreign Office officials noted that while they did
not wish to spur Amin's "delusions of statesmanship", a polite
reply would be necessary.

"As the general's messages go, this is one of his more lucid
and, although it is as preposterous as one might expect, the
acting high commissioner believes that it was sent with the
best of intentions," one official informed Downing Street.

"It would therefore seem appropriate and courteous to return
some acknowledgement."


Debt Burden Continues To Surge

By David Clerkin

BORROWING by consumers and businesses continued its record-
breaking surge during November, according to new figures from
the Central Bank.

The debt burden faced by private sector borrowers stood at
almost €195 billion at the end of the month, which was 26%
higher than in November 2003. This compared with a rise of
less than 18% in the previous year.

The bank said in its monthly bulletin that demand for
residential mortgages remained strong, with home owners
borrowing another €1.5bn during the month.

Banks are owed more than €70bn by Irish homeowners, 27% more
than last year. But the mortgage market continued to show
signs of easing, with the underlying growth rate of mortgage
lending falling for the fourth month in a row.

The main driver of Irish credit was non-mortgage borrowing,
which the bank said saw "a sharp jump" year-on-year. Non-
mortgage borrowing now accounts for almost half of the growth
in lending here, up from 40% in 2003 and 36% in 2002.

Business lending was "by far the most important" driver of the
increase in lending, with non-financial corporations borrowing
a further €2.5bn during the month.

Financial companies, on the other hand, saw their total
borrowings fall by €800 million.

Loans to companies based in Dublin's International Financial
Services Centre (IFSC) fell €532m, which the bank described as

Household borrowing excluding mortgages, such as credit card
debt and overdrafts, increased by €450m during the month.

The bank also said contributions to the Government's Special
Savings Incentive Account (SSIA) scheme picked up slightly.
Savers squirrelled away €148m during November, up from €142m
the previous month.

Total funds held in SSIA accounts, which are boosted by the
Government to the tune of €1 for every €4 saved, now exceed
€4.7bn. Economists expect SSIA holders to go on a €14bn
spending spree when the scheme matures between May 2006 and
April 2007. Those who save the maximum €254 per month over
five years will have almost €20,000 at their disposal, but the
average contribution is less than €170.

The bank also noted the continuing slide in the value of the
dollar, which tumbled 4.4% against the euro during the month.
This hurt exporters further after a 2.6% fall in October. But
exporters to Britain and Asia escaped the pain, as the euro
remained broadly stable against sterling and the Japanese yen.


Irish Government Boosts Cash Aid For Quake Survivors

By Ed Carty, PA

The Irish Government tonight pledged 10 million euro (£7
million) in aid relief for the thousands of communities
destroyed by the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern announced the cash boost – 10 times
the original offering – after a meeting with officials in

The government was severely criticised by leading charities
and aid agencies for failing to offer a substantial package to
help the millions of people threatened by disease.

Initially they had offered a one million Euro package
(£700,000 pounds), but later increased this to two million
Euro (£1.4million pounds).

Irish Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte had criticised the
funding as modest and called for an increase.

"This is a disaster virtually unprecedented in recent times
and it will require an unprecedented response from the
developed world if further death and suffering is to be kept
to the minimum possible," Mr Rabbitte said.

"Ireland should set an example for the rest of the world to

Charities collecting nationwide are understood to have raised
more than three million Euro (£2.1million pounds). Concern
received a single anonymous donation of 500,000 Euro (£350,000
pounds), while the Irish Red Cross is thought to have raised
more than one million Euro (£700,000 pounds).

Pubs, restaurants and hotels around the country are being
urged to collect from revellers over the New Year weekend on
behalf of the Red Cross.

It is estimated the World Bank, individual countries and
private citizens have so far pledged more than 300million Euro
(£210million pounds) in relief.

With the death toll believed to have passed 120,000 the UN
warned up to five million people around the Indian Ocean
lacked access to basic supplies needed to stay alive.

The World Health Organisation described the Tsunami as the
worst natural disaster in South East Asia for decades and
appealed for tens of millions in aid.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Ambassador to Thailand Don Mulhall
revealed the number of Irish nationals missing in the region
continued to fall. He said as few as 24 Irish people were
unaccounted for.

The Ambassador also said he had received assurances from Thai
government officials that no Irish people would be cremated or
buried in mass graves.

Monthly Table of Contents 12/04
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